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It's weird that there's a fancy food court a few blocks away, on Delancey Street, once home to jelly shoes & ultra-cheap jeans. It's a theme park of the old Lower East Side, superimposed on the still-extant LES, or so it seems to me. I don't often cross Houston, but I went down there with my best girls the other day. The 11-year-old wanted a Bing sandwich: a deep-fried scallion pancake wrapped around a filling such as tofu or tempura veggies. Then we had expensive pudding & I indignantly explained that lemon & strawberry pudding are in no way trifle.*


*The name is a joke ~ trifle is a time-consuming dessert, made & served in a cut-glass bowl, with layers of red wine-soaked ladyfingers, pudding, fruit, whipped cream, jello, & a few other elements. My back still hurts from carrying a trifle dish from Auntie May in Wales to my mother in Sioux Falls. 

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Monday Quote

Though still very far from being perfect girls, each was slowly learning, in her own way, one of the three lessons all are the better for knowing: that cheerfulness can change misfortune into love and friends; that in ordering one's self aright one helps others to do the same; and that the power of finding beauty in the humblest things makes home happy and life lovely.

~ Louisa May Alcott


Why does this seem so corny when it's so true? Who doesn't appreciate cheerfulness over rancor, grumpiness, remonstration? I certainly have had the experience of making an effort towards kindness & being rewarded with kindness & friendship in return, usually way more than I put in. And the invisibility of keeping your life in order gets out of the way of others' tangles, which if it doesn't always help others, it sometimes does, for sure. And conscious gratefulness for small satisfactions & joys does make for a happy life. 


Saying this makes me thinking of being part of a group reading, years ago, called Blood & Guts in High School. Everyone but me talked about things like being the only heroin addict in their high school, while I read from my actual high school diary, all about boys & fashion & hippies (who I desperately desired to emulate, but unsurprisingly, there weren't any in Sioux Falls, SD, in 1970). Why is it more embarrassing to be a (relatively) happy, satisfied teenager than a malcontent? 

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First time I've been to City Winery since they moved up to Chelsea Piers (11th Ave & 15th St). Big but intimate (the photo emphasizes big but really, we were pretty close to the stage). We saw Nashville singers Drew & Ellie Holcomb, who have strong voices that blend well. She's mostly on the Christian music circuit: "This is the only song she's written about me," Drew said, adding matter-of-factly, "She mostly writes about Jesus." More mainstream than I generally dig in country music, but I liked their friendly energy. 

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Friday cat

Great birthday present except do I wear it or display it? 


Has Lefty been watching me do karate? Is that how he got so fast with his hands? This interspecies love is mysterious. With Lefty no less than with Johnny.

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Black Belt dinner

Some of the singing black belts. (Photo by Frank Ramos Sr.)

I'd never gone to one of my dojo's annual black belt dinners, & now I'm sorry I missed so many. I think I didn't want to spring for the required Seido patch but someone who left gave me hers.


The most fun was to get to see so many people I like. 


It was also fun to sing our tribute song to our grandmaster Kaicho (whose birthday it was). To the tune of the Temptations' "My Girl," it starts, "We've got sanchin in a black belt class" & whips along to the chorus of "We osu every day. What can make us osu this way? Kaicho (Kaicho, Kaicho). Talkin' bout Kaicho." 


I almost wore heels but 5 minutes in them in my apartment was quite enough. 


It was a full day of karate, with an informal workout, a class, & then the dinner. Interesting in a "you had to be there" sort of way, I think as I write this. 


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Oh Monah!

There was a song... I couldn't remember how it went even though I'd been listening to & singing it a lot not long ago.... It had a woman's name.... A sort of novelty number.... I had a few versions....


I liked it so much that I knew I must have given it many stars in my iTunes but I couldn't find it. 


Today I had the idea to look through the list in order of most listened to (#1 & 2 were both Etta James, btw). It took only a second to hit on it. "Oh Monah" or "We/You Shall Be Free." I have versions by The Front Porch Swingin' Liquor Pigs, Leadbelly & Woody Guthrie (which doesn't have Monah in it at all but it's the same song), Ted Weems & His Orchestra, and Pee Wee King & His Golden West Cowboys.


And it was 5 years since I last played it. 


I was down in the henhouse on my knees, thought I heard a chicken/preacher sneeze. Only a rooster saying his prayers, thanking his god for the hens upstairs. 

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Tim McCarver (1940-2023)

Tim McCarver

In 1980 we called him Uncle Tim.

His nicely ruined American beauty.

We were in love with all Irish face.


Memphis voice calling games

knew why it rolled & how to do it all.

His fingers have more knuckles than ours.


Everyone still in love with everyone

Everyone still alive & we had uncles

we didn't even need.

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Monday Quote

Rich colours actually look more luminous on a grey day, because they are seen against a somber background and seem to be burning with a lustre of their own. Against a dark sky all flowers look like fireworks.

~ G. K. Chesterton, "The Glory of Grey"


Sort of like the Cloud Appreciation Society's brief against "blue sky thinking." We don't have to always lament a sunless day. I do like fireworks! 

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Chances are that if you've met me more than once, I know your birthday & you know how much I love birthdays.


Although mine is first among equals, you could say. I love that it might snow on my birthday (even though it didn't). I love that 18 is an auspicious number in Hebrew numerology. I love being an Aquarius (an Aquarius dragon, no less). I love sharing it with my granddaughter, a couple of friends, & Yoko Ono, Toni Morrison, John Travolta, former Yankee shortstop Didi Gregorius & many others.


It turns out I also share my birthday with two serial killers, & this year got a couple of pieces of bad news, so my birthday wasn't feeling so wonderful. But then I got calls & Facebook greetings & texts & exploding online cakes, & I remembered how great it is to have a birthday. I kind of love everybody's birthday & I know I love that everyone has one. As I've said before, you can't be so rich you can get more than one, or so poor you have to sell yours off. You can't buy a better birthday or be forced to fall back to a worse (looking at you January 2). The great democracy of the birthday. 


Right now I'm feeling a little bereft that every single person in the world will have a birthday before I get one again. 


Why yes, I am a big baby, why do you ask?

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In the neighborhood: "Kaputs"

First Avenue at 3rd Street. 

I love that people let you know if their castoffs are worth taking. This is not only broken, it's no good, & in case that isn't clear enough, it's kaputs. 

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In the neighborhood

Little by little the world opens back up. Afternoon treats at Veniero's with an old friend, catching up & comfortable, as old friends are, knowing the right things about each other. 

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Work & anti-work

I don't do much work for pay these days. My big steady projects have fallen by the wayside along with the magazines that supported them. That's fine with me but I do seem to like to work, at least the "being needed/thanked" part of it. That said, I feel jubilant right now, having just finished two projects with none on the horizon. Most of my peers are retired by now but I can't quite seem to throw in the towel yet I'm perfectly happy to be left alone. 

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Is it a blazer?

Does this look enough like a blazer that I could wear it to a blazers-required event? Can you believe I'm going to such an event? It's the annual black belt dinner for my dojo, & I've never been before. I said that if I could find the patch (also required) that someone gave me, I would sign up & I did so I did. My closet actually has a remarkable number of blazers or blazer-adjacent items for someone who has been wearing jeans to work her entire life. The one I'll probably end up wearing is Johnny's & has the advantage of pockets. 


(Janet, yes, I know it's really a bleazer.)

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Monday Quote

If sleep is the apogee of physical relaxation, boredom is the apogee of mental relaxation. Boredom is the dream bird that hatches the egg of experience.

~ Walter Benjamin

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Trevor Winkfield

Wonderful show at Tibor, & we bought this terrific little painting, called "Prior to Lemonade." It won't be home till the show ends next month but I've been visiting it & liking it more each time. 

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My snow dance hasn't worked. Sulking & threatening suicide haven't worked. Maybe a gentle request will?

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A movie!

I seldom go to movies, although that's picked up because my Norwegian class last semester was centered on films. And in fact, not coincidentally, the movie I saw last night was in Norwegian, at the Scandinavia House, & I went with my teacher & a fellow student. We saw Alle hater Johann (Everyone Hates Johann), which I loved for its dark humor & many explosions. Even though it was people who got blown up, a good bit of the time. The movie covers 80 years in a brisk 90 minutes, & shows devotion, senseless dislike, & a glorious northern Norway island landscape. It's about a man with many losses & harms done him, who soldiers on. 

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I'll fly away

One of my favorite songs. I just listened to terrific versions by Alison Krauss & Gillian Welch; Etta James; James And Martha Carson; Maddox Brothers & Rose; Ralph Stanley; Rev. B.C. Campbell and Congregation; Sally Van Meter, John Cowan & The Waybacks; Sister Shirley Sydnor; The Trumpeteers; and Los Hombres Calientes. Those are in my iTunes, I also listened to Mississippi John Hurt & some others streaming. It's one of my favorite songs to boom out when I'm riding my bike around town. 


Some bright morning when my work is o'er
I'll fly away
To a home on God's celestial shore
I'll fly away.


[chorus:] I'll fly away, oh, Glory
I'll fly away
When I die, Hallelujah, by and by
I'll fly away.


When the shadows of this life have gone,
I'll fly away;
Like a bird from prison bars has flown,
I'll fly away.



Just a few more weary days and then
I'll fly away
To a land where joy shall never end
I'll fly away



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Money, honey

I love to see Johnny & Lefty sharing the bed. 

In 1992, when I was the money (& gardening) editor of a women's magazine, I wrote an item on Series EE bonds & how there would never be a better time to buy them. So I did. I spend $250 & a few months later $500 ~ all I could scrape up ~ for $500 & $1,000 bonds. They finished maturing 30 years later & I cashed them in yesterday: $3,110.40. A windfall. The amazing part is that I knew where they were the entire time. 

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What I'm reading

I just reread Edward Foster's modest, insightful, moving little chapbook, Code of the West: A memoir of Ted Berrigan. It weaves in a cross-country trip he took by motorcycle with notes on his friendship with Ted & on Ted's work. Originally published in 1994, it's worth tracking down. 

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Ooops, I forgot to note whose painting this is.

OK we had measurable snow in New York City: .4". Yeah, that's right, less than half an inch. If I looked blurrily out my window, it was promising, but there was only a smattering on the street. I'm making do with art. Many people would think pictures of snow are better than snow. 


Update: Sea smoke, frost quakes, exploding trees. My goodness, what a weekend! 

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Bard kinetic at the Algonquin

The charming Cedar Sigo. 

Book party at the Algonquin for Anne Waldman's latest book, Bard, Kinetic, a book of memoir, essays, letters, poems, and interviews that celebrates her life & work. Karen Weiser & Anne read from letters they'd exchanged, Cedar Sigo read a few lovely works, some musicians whose names I didn't catch performed, said hello to lots of friends, & a bunch of us ate fries & ice cream afterwards at the fancy lobby restaurant. I'd been to the Algonquin ages ago but still fun to get out of my downtown routine & see what goes on up there. 


Andrei, Greg & I wrote a collaborative masterpiece passing Greg's notebook back & forth. Good luck typing it up, Greg, given Andrei's impenetrable handwriting. Crocodile? No, terrorist. Oh, Andrei.


Haven't dipped into the book enough to say anything about it.

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Another day full of event

"Girl Reading," a lithograph by Vanessa Bell of her sister, Virginia Woolf.

This was from a small show of Hogarth Press & other books related to Virginia Woolf at the library. "A new form for a new novel...," Woolf wrote, "the approach will be entirely different this time; no scaffolding; scarcely a brick to be seen... everything as bright as fire in the mist." There was hanging out with half a dozen hilarious girlfriends at Urban Hawker, a Singapore street food market in midtown, where all I could figure out to eat was some delicious expensive panna cotta. There was signing our wills, at long last. There was lunch with an old friend. A busy day full of people I like.

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